The huge drop in oil prices has had a profound effect on the economy. Canada is in recession with growth predictions for the final two quarters of 2015 tepid at best. There are 160,000 more unemployed Canadians than there was a decade ago and job quality is at a 25-year low. The economy is slowing down and many Canadians are wondering about the security of their jobs.

During periods of slow economic growth, the professional landscape can be a daunting place for job seekers. As there are fewer jobs available with evermore applicants vying for a position. The amount of full-time positions keeps shrinking and a job for life seems to be a thing of the past. Many hopeful job applicants do not know how to give themselves an edge over other candidates.

“A lot of people are competing for the same positions,” says Kelly Ross, subject matter expert for development of courses within the Faculty of Continuing and Professional Studies at Sheridan College and Founder and Managing Director at TPS Tax and Accounting. “They’ve got to try and set themselves apart so they’re looking for any way they can do that.”

Gaining the edge

One of the best ways an individual can set themselves apart from their contemporaries is to grow their professional skill set by gaining further qualifications. Enrolling in a continuing education program can safeguard a career during recession. Continuing education programs benefit both businesses and workers. Businesses encourage employees to continue their education in order to sustain a highly skilled and specialized workforce, while employees benefit from the increased likelihood of a promotion and higher income earning ability.

"Enrolling in a continuing education program can safeguard a career during recession. Continuing education programs benefit both businesses and workers."

Whether an individual enrolls in a continuing education program to retrain, or change their industry, or increase their skill set in their field, continuing education courses are flexible and can fit around any work schedule.

“There are many different types of courses offered,” says Ross. “There’s the full-time day-time courses but there’s also part-time, online and blended courses. Blended is a combination of online and in-class sessions, which provides flexibility without losing the in-person interaction to really grasp what they are learning. There are many different options out there that meet people’s different needs.”

Building a professional network

The importance of a professional network cannot be overstated. Statistics show that networking is the best way to land a new job and to acquire new business leads. It is in continuing education programs that individuals begin to grow these essential professional network.

“I see exchange of information between students all the time,” says Ross. “These are people that can help you build your reputation and better your career later on.”

Seeking further education is an excellent way to add a practical application to existing education, such as an undergraduate degree, ensuring that individuals are highly qualified and extremely employable workers.

Ross says, “Continuing education really brings together the academic aspects of education with real world, on-the-job experience. Sheridan College has raised the bar with the extent of learning within their new Accounting Practitioner Certificate program, which offers a blended platform with on-the-job simulation, using situation analysis, ERP systems, case studies, all while still learning the concepts and calculations within the traditional accounting courses.”